Posts Tagged Behavioral Effects
A brain injury can have various physical, cognitive, medical, emotional, and behavioral effects on head injury survivors. Of these changes, behavioral changes can be one of the most challenging for survivors to overcome to live happier and more independently. To help survivors with traumatic brain injury (TBI), families and caregivers should learn to understand their behavior and develop practical ways to address those challenges.
Why Does Brain Injury Affect Emotions?
Behavioral problems following TBI are often the result of damage to the frontal lobe, the area of the brain that controls “executive functions.” Executive functions refer to the set of skills a person uses to plan, create, evaluate, organize, evaluate, reason, communicate, and solve problems. These impairments have a significant impact on how a person behaves.
Common Behavioral Changes Experienced by TBI Survivors
Human behavior is complex and multi-faceted. This means it can be difficult to isolate which behavior is a result of TBI. A TBI patient’s behavior is, after all, influenced by many different factors, like the nature of the injury, their pre- and post-injury experience, their cognitive abilities, or the behavior of other people. But some of the most common behavior changes encountered by TBI survivors include:
1. Memory Problems
Most people diagnosed with a brain disorder may experience memory problems, but they are more common among TBI survivors as a result of an injury from the bony protrusions inside the skull. Typical situations include forgetting a person’s name, losing a train of thought, and difficulty learning new things.
2. Temper Outbursts
Family members of people with TBI often describe their loved one as someone with a quick temper. They may use bad language, throw objects, or slam doors. Drastic changes like the loss of independence and inability to follow a conversation, in particular, can make a person with TBI more prone to these temper outbursts.
Depression among people with TBI can arise because of the struggle to adjust to disabilities and the changes to one’s role in the family and society. Symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, changes in sleep and appetite, and withdrawal from peers.
4. Poor Concentration
TBI affects a person’s attention and concentration abilities, posing a challenge to work, study, and everyday living. Poor concentration manifests itself in difficulty multitasking, following conversations, and processing information. This happens when the lateral intraparietal cortex—the region of the brain responsible for controlling attention—suffers damage.
5. Self-Centered Attitude
It’s common for TBI survivors to show signs of egocentrism. In turn, this could hamper their ability to see things from another person’s point of view which severely impact their relationship with family members, especially if they used to be a caring person. And although it is often taken for granted, the ability to understand another’s perspective is a complex cognitive skill.
6. Aggressive Behavior
Aggressive behavior following a TBI is often impulsive. A person with TBI can easily grow agitated over trivial disagreements. Experts explain that aggression that happens directly after the TBI is the result of delirium and other post-injury medications. Aggression up to three months after TBI, on the other hand, happens as a result of depression, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
7. Lower Sex Drive
A decreased desire or interest in sex is more common among TBI survivors than heightened libido. Disinhibited sexual behavior can be a possible effect of poor awareness and impulsivity. Changes in sexual functioning following TBI can be due to hormonal changes, medication side effects, fatigue, and movement problems.
Coping with a Loved One with Head Injury
People with TBI showing signs of these behavior problems should be evaluated by a doctor so they can receive proper treatment. On top of medical intervention, friends and family of survivors should also actively participate in rehabilitation, recovery, and advocacy.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Brain injury has lifelong effects. It pays to understand that a person with TBI might already be trying his or her best. Every member of the family can have different abilities, skills, comfort levels, and limitations, so set small goals and acknowledge that every day is an achievement.
2. Get Involved
Behavioral problems are often hard to deal with. But try to resist the temptation of avoiding difficult situations. People with TBI could end up feeling more confused and isolated if left alone. Instead, get involved and familiarize yourself with their day-to-day routine.
3. Encourage Independence
Learning how to comfort a loved one with TBI is a must. But tread carefully: there is a fine line between caring for people and smothering them with affection. Try to instill independence and study their behavior to know the right time to provide comfort.
4. Reinforce Positive Behavior
What used to come easy to a TBI survivor may now feel extremely difficult. Reinforce positive behavior by focusing on the patient’s strengths, rather than pointing fingers or directing behavior.
5. Rediscover Preferences
Stay alert and pay attention to the wants and needs of a person with TBI. Discover new ways they can engage in activities and establish a balance between easy and difficult tasks. And always encourage them to participate, instead of assuming that their injury makes them unable to.
6. Confide with Loved Ones
Honesty is the best policy, and confiding in friends and family members can help alleviate the burden. Enlisting others for support can provide a fresh perspective and make it easier to identify triggers and how to avoid them.
7. Bounce Back Quickly
Accept that encountering behavioral problems is a part of life. Avoid getting stuck by teaching
new skills while a person is upset. Bounce back quickly from these obstacles then revisit them again later since people aren’t receptive to learning new things when they’re upset.
Other articles you may like:
- I am listening… just my brain injury keeps phasing out.
- Guest post: Rob Dunn on family’s denial of brain injury
- Guest post: Rich Parry-Jones, brain injury survivors husband & carer.
- Is my brain injury making me a bad friend?
- Missing the obvious mistakes after brain injury
Have you or a brain injury survivor you know struggled with these behavioural issues? What advice would you give to others?
Today’s article is written by Hazel Ann Westco.
Hazel Ann Westco is a start-up freelance writer. She is interested in writing blogs and articles related to legal cases mainly in personal injury and employment. Whenever she has free time she rides her bicycle or motorcycle for a road trip. You can follow her on Twitter using her handle @AnnWestco.